that isn't quite what I said
I checked information on a bunch of people I know on this and other similar sites. I didn't find anything on any of them that wasn't in the phone book. Those with unlisted numbers didn't show up at all, even if I searched for their unlisted numbers. Yes, there are ways of getting even unlisted information that generally require spending a bit of money, but that's been true long before there was an internet. Marketing companies mine data from all sorts of sources, DMVs, County real estate records, court records, credit info, etc., and create and sell detailed lists and databases. But my point is, this isn't something new that started with the web. Regardless of your comment about the Coles directories, I could buy a phone book specifically of unlisted numbers fifty years ago. It just cost more than the standard coles directory, that's all.
I'm not entirely sure what your point about the power company is. You said that your personal information was inadvertently published in the public telephone directory. But still, the very fact that these very recent privacy laws only give you the option to "opt out" should make it clear that this has been a problem for a very long time.
I'm not trying to trivialize your or anyone else's situation. My point is just that the only thing that has changed fundamentally is not our degree of privacy, but the ease with which such information can be readily obtained. Still, I stand by what I said. Your personal situation notwithstanding, as a society, we have never been safer. It's only been several hundred years since the vast majority of the human population, even in the most civilized parts of the world, lived in very real and constant fear of being literally hacked to pieces purely for sport, simply by going out in public. Forget one in four, there still are places on this planet today where women cannot go out alone in public AT ALL for fear of being raped or worse. Just remember, not long ago, that used to be the conditions prevalent EVERYWHERE on the planet.
If anything, the recent passage of a variety of privacy laws shows that we are trying to stem the tide, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to put the genie back in the bottle. Most people don't opt out, and, frankly, sometimes I think that the only real effect of these laws is to add a pamphlet that no one reads in our bank statements, credit card bills, and doctors visits. I'm not saying that everything is just fine, but good luck fighting the tide without living under a rock.
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